I completed a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Pharmacy at Utrecht University (Netherlands). I had my first research experience here at the Woolcock Institute with the respiratory cell and molecular biology group, when I went overseas for my Master’s research project. This was for a period of 6 months, where I looked at the effect of smoking on the response of neutrophils to viruses and bacteria. After my studies I realised that research is what I enjoy doing most, so I am happy to be back at the Woolcock Institute for a PhD, supervised by A/Prof Brian Oliver.
The project is about the effects of dietary fats on airway responses in asthma. Fatty acids are an essential dietary component. However, recent studies have shown that a high-fat meal increases airway inflammation and impairs bronchodilator recovery in asthma. My project focuses on the effect of different dietary fatty acids on inflammation in human primary lung fibroblasts and what mechanisms are involved. I am also investigating whether the different fatty acids synergise with inflammatory cytokines present in asthma patients and obese people to produce more inflammation. This will indicate whether modifying dietary fat intake could be useful in asthma.